The Epilepsy Action fundraiser award 2019 goes to Bob Sutcliffe.
Bob, now 49, was diagnosed with epilepsy when he was 36, which came as a huge shock to him. He re-trained as a primary school teacher but was struck with ill health yet again after he had a series of heart attacks caused by a virus. His brother bought him some watercolour paints to help his recovery. Soon, his dabbles with painting turned into commissions – creating an idea to raise money for charity.
Bob has since raised more than £4,500 for Epilepsy Action by selling paintings and cards and cushions of his artwork on his website Bob On Paintings. He has even been known to paint after both of his wrists were broken following a violent seizure. As well as this, if Bob finds out about someone who was diagnosed with epilepsy, he is often known to send a painting to them or their family.
He has donated paintings for fundraising balls and National Doodle Day and this year has designed a robin Christmas card for the charity. He painted this while recovering from two broken wrists following a severe seizure. The card is currently being sold in several Cards for Good Causes pop-up shops across the country.
Epilepsy Action’s corporate and merchandise officer Harvinder Chaggar nominated Bob for the award. She said: “Bob is highly dedicated, very easy-going and creative with his fundraising. He is always willing to help and do anything he can to raise funds and awareness for the charity. His commitment is on another level. When he painted the Christmas robin card for Epilepsy Action, he knew there was a deadline to get the image to us. Despite what he was going through, he was not going to let the impact of a seizure get in his way.”
Bob was presented with the award at Sherwood Primary School, where he works. He said: “I just hope that my determination, not just to paint but also to teach, helps others to see a way forward. Epilepsy Action has been there for me and my family when I’ve needed support. Fundraising means I can help it to continue to be there for people who are going through the same thing. I’d like to thank everyone who supports me by both buying my cards and asking me to paint for them. I’d also like to thank my school community for encouraging me and showing it’s possible to be successful in a challenging job with this condition. It’s so important to show children that epilepsy is not scary or something that limits you. This award simply symbolises the power of the motto: ‘Never give up’.”
His wife Jan, who also nominated him for the award, said Bob’s fundraising is about so much more than simply raising funds for charity. “I think the fact Bob has epilepsy and desperately wants people to understand the condition makes his determination to support Epilepsy Action even stronger. He wants to show it’s not just about having seizures but the wider issues they raise. He very much values the support Epilepsy Action has given him and his family. Bob doesn’t just raise money – he raises his game. He raises the profile. He raises others’ sense of hope and self-esteem.”